I came across an incredible group on social media called “Pillows For Paws” and immediately reached out to them. Imagine folks that are so dedicated to the health, enrichment and well being of shelter animals (dogs, cats, and rabbits included!) that their mission is to make sure these animals receive positive comfort and enrichment items during their stay at an animal shelter.
Sometimes it’s hard to imagine what actually goes into the adoptability of shelter pets. Emotional well being is extremely important and it goes beyond veterinary and feeding responsibilities. Enter 501C3 NYC based charity “Pillows For Paws” who provides handmade beds, toys, grooming and medical supplies to NYC shelter dogs, cats, and rabbits. Their mission is to support a positive environment during an animal’s stay at a shelter. Beds and toys are made solely by volunteers at monthly craft circles and at home. They rely on donations from individuals and corporations and spotlight rescue groups on their website to educate the public. Don’t feel creative but still want to help? They provide info on that as well! (And ladies, they are also involved in promoting the “Tails Of NYC RescueMen” calendar… hot NYC fellas working their “tails” off for rescue pets.. check it out on their website!)
I caught up with founder and President Jen Halpern for a quick Pillows For Paws Q&A!
TC: What inspired you to put PFP together?
JH: I still wanted to do something important to help shelter animals but knew I couldn’t physically volunteer at a shelter. I had tried in the past and it just broke my heart. But I wasn’t going to give up… there had to be a way to still help because these homeless animals needed so much. I was looking for volunteer opportunities on the Animal Care Centers of NYC page and saw one way to help was to start a sewing group and create much needed beds for cats and dogs. There was no funding for these items and thought it was a great way to give these homeless animals who are frightened at the shelter a little piece of home or at least something cozy to sleep on. My thoughts immediately went toward how stressful it is in a shelter environment and if a bed could give them a sense of comfort, hope or love then that was worth everything.
And once the group started, many others apparently felt the same way! Our group expanded and I found inspiration in all the wonderful volunteers who joined the group who had ideas to make cat, dog and rabbit toys which we have added to our craft circles. So anyone can volunteer whether or not you sew! Our fundraising efforts also allow us to donate enrichment items and grooming supplies that are also always needs at the city shelter.
TC: How does it make you feel to see animals being comforted by your pieces?
JH: Seeing the animals sleep on a bed, kittens curled up in a hammock (which we also make by hand!), or playing with one of our toys or a treat that is making them happy in that moment warms my heart. Of course, I want them all to find happy forever homes, but helping to emotionally support them in what is a difficult time in their lives is so important. I feel these comfort and enrichment items are just the beginning of what we can accomplish… this movement starts a new dialogue and shows how worthy these animals are and if we can see that, then hopefully others will too and will adopt not shop these amazing beings.
TC: How do you recruit such FABULOUS volunteers?
JH: We LOVE our volunteers…of course, we couldn’t do any of this without them because we are 100% volunteer run! Finding them originally started with just word of mouth, and then crafty people knowing other crafty people, and animal people knowing other animal people, etc. A lot of volunteers thank me for starting the group because like me, they have a hard time helping out at a shelter. PFP gives people the chance to uniquely help these animals and give back in a creative way and be a part of an animal-loving community at the same time.
TC: What is your biggest goal for 2016?
JH: Our biggest goal is to find many more volunteers who can help us sew and make toys at home using our DIY page. We would love for communities everywhere to do this for their local shelters. And of course fundraising! We are always looking for donors or partners to help us continue to do our work. Whether they are donations of materials, toys, treats or monetary, we rely on the public for their support to keep doing what we are doing. And lastly, promoting shelter animals as the only animals to take home and make a part of your family! They need you!
PFP currently has a fundraiser where people can donate a shelter bed in honor of a companion animal at this link.
Check out Pillows for Paws at pillowsforpaws.org.
Follow them on Twitter @pillowsforpaws and find them on Facebook here. –
PGR thanks this wonderful, unique and extremely hard working group for their tireless efforts to not only help animals find homes, but improve their quality of life until they do!
For Pets Get Rocked I’m Terrie Carr reminding you to ROCK with your pets!